Oral Health Care and Challenges Facing Dentists and Families of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Dental Clinics in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)
Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by deficits in social interaction and communication skill.
ASD families are facing difficulties maintaining good oral health and dental care. Delivering Dental care to this population is also a challenge to the dentist. In this study we try to explore some of these challenges.
Objectives: The study aimed to identify the following
1. Challenges facing dentists during dental evaluation and procedures for ASD patients
2. Challenges facing families of ASD patients in finding suitable dental clinics
3. Explore the level of dentist knowledge about ASD
A cross-sectional study. A self-administrated survey & questionnaires distributed in different regions of KSA. Targeting: ASD Families (17 questions) and Dentist. (26 questions).
The questionnaires were formulated in Arabic and English languages and distributed. Up to date, 80 dentists and 97 families completed the survey
> 85 % of dentist respondents were from the Central and Eastern regions. Most of the participating dentists were general practitioners while 1/3 were specialists and consultants. While 72% of ASD Families respondents are living in the central region.
> 65% of the dentists had no or minimal knowledge about ASD and more than 80% of the dentists never participated in ASD continuing education courses. 25% of the dentists had behavior control protocols for ADS patients in their clinics.
86% of ASD families had difficulties finding suitable dental clinics. 65% of the ASD children visited dentists only for pain management. 41% of ASD children were denied treatment in the dental clinics. 97.5 % of dentist reported that they did not or rarely treat ASD patient. <3% of dentist regard them self as expert in handling and treating ASD patient .55% of ASD patients visited private dental clinics. 77% stated that no health insurance for dental care.
>50% of dentist used General anesthesia and comprehensive treatment plans modality to treat ASD patients.
81% of dentists reported that the hand piece and the syringe with needle, as tools are most common trigger for behavioral difficulties. 93% of the dentists believed that “sound” was the most common trigger of adverse reaction in ASD patients while 75% believed that it was “touch” as a sensory stimulation.
Results also showed the most common oral conditions were bruxism and attrition and the most common oral finding was dental caries with high prevalence of gingivitis.
Conclusions: sample size is small and the study still on going, preliminary results indicate the dental care for ASD population is poor with lack of dentist experience.
Oral health instructions should be given to ASD patients and their families. Dental management of ASD should be included in dental undergraduate education in KSA. There is a need for a “standard protocol” in the management of ASD patients in dental clinics in KSA
A specialized dental clinic must be developed to improve the dental treatment experience for ASD children.